Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend TV

The second-best basketball game TigerBlog saw on TV this weekend was Kentucky-Notre Dame.

If you saw that game, you know that it was the best game of the NCAA tournament so far. Kentucky's quest to go 40-0 is the main storyline of the tournament, and this was the closest anyone came - by far - to derailing that quest.

The Irish played an inspired game from start to near-finish. At times, it appeared that Notre Dame had Kentucky on the verge of being put away, and each time, Kentucky answered when it needed.

The ending was dramatic, that's for sure, as ND's Jerian Grant could have won it had his running three-pointer from deep in the corner dropped in instead of just going long. The real question is whether or not Notre Dame should have fouled Kentucky on purpose early in that last possession of the Wildcats, when the game was close.

TigerBlog remembers talking to Joe Scott about that once, and the former Princeton coach was adamant one way or the other, but TB can't remember which way now.

TigerBlog does think that there is a reluctance on the part of coaches to do things that are out of the standard practice, for fear of being second-guessed. Of course, it's tough to be too hard on ND coach Mike Brey, who did a great job getting his team to stand up to Kentucky and almost win.

In TigerBlog's just-for-fun bracket, he has three Final Four teams still alive - Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke. He had Virginia as well, but the Cavs didn't make it.

And he has Duke over Kentucky in the final. If he's right? Nothing. No money is involved.

What was the best basketball game he saw on TV this weekend? Hickory 42, South Bend Central 40.

That's right. "Hoosiers" was on. TigerBlog skipped past it as Coach Dale was driving into Hickory for the first time in the opening scene and stayed with it, well, all the way to the end.

That's what happens when "Hoosiers" is on. And when Coach Dale says "I love you guys?" Yeah, TB gets a little misty - though not quite the same was as when Harry Bailer says "to my big brother George, the richest man in town," on Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls.

You know what else was on this weekend?

How about eight Division I men's lacrosse games on stations that are normally on basic cable. On Saturday there were two on ESPNU, two on CBS Sports and another on Fox Sports 1.

Yesterday brought three more on ESPNU, including Princeton-Brown.

TigerBlog loves lacrosse as much as anyway. He never thought he'd see a time when there'd be eight games on TV channels that are widely distributed.

Hey, when Princeton won its first NCAA tournament back in 1992, that game wasn't even on live. And when it was shown a week later, it was condensed into a one-hour showing.

The game on Fox Sports 1 was Yale's win at Penn. TigerBlog thought Stephen McElduff, a former North Carolina defenseman, was excellent as the color commentator on that broadcast. It might have been the first time TB had heard him, but he made great points and he did so in a calm, informative, objective way.

Meanwhile, back at Princeton-Brown, the color commentator was Ryan Boyle, who happens to be one of the elite players in the history of Princeton lacrosse. It can't be easy for him to be on TV commenting on his alma mater.

As for the game itself, TigerBlog - like everyone else - was expecting a ton of goals, though he did hedge his prediction in his pregame story by saying that because of all of the talk about 20-18 or so that the final would be 8-6.

In the end, it was 10-8, and it was 10-8 in favor of Brown. The Bears are an impressive team in transition and they have outstanding finishers, even those with longsticks, such as Larken Kemp, who scored twice in the game - and had an assist.

Off the top of his head, TigerBlog knows that David Morrow had two goals as a longstick in the Tigers' 16-14 win over North Carolina in the 1992 semifinals. He can't remember another time he's seen that.

The day belonged, though, to the goalies. Princeton's Eric Sanschagrin made 15 saves, six of which came against Dylan Molloy, who came into the game as the Division I leader in goals per game and the possessor of 41 on the year but who did not have a goal in this one.

On the other end was Jack Kelly, who also made 15 saves. Both goalies made incredible saves at major moments in a game that did feature 96 shots.

With the loss, Princeton is now 2-1 in the league, behind Cornell (3-0 and the highest-ranked Ivy team) and Brown (2-0). Dartmouth is 1-1, and Yale and Harvard have two losses and Penn has three.

The first goal is to get to the Ivy tournament, which requires a top four finish. Then the goal is to win it.

The two teams that TigerBlog saw play yesterday both look like they could accomplish either of those goals.

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